GARY Rohan may not return to football in 2013 as the young Sydney Swan continues his rehabilitation from a broken leg.
Rohan suffered a compound fracture of his tibia in an incident with North Melbourne's Lindsay Thomas on April 22 last year.
The club has since taken an extremely cautious approach with the gifted 21-year-old, who started running on a treadmill in November and then on grass last month.
There has been some speculation that Rohan may not play at all this season, something teammate Marty Mattner was asked about during Fox Footy's coverage of the NAB Cup on Sunday.
"He's going alright. He started running around Christmas time and has gradually been building up," Mattner said.
"But it's going to be a long, long season for Gary and if he plays this year, it'd be great, but I think the outlook is just to get his leg right.
"It's hard to put a date on when he might come back."
As recently as October, Rohan was targeting a return in round one of this season, but proved wide of the mark.
The club is currently loath to set goals for his return, instead focusing on making sure he rebuilds strength and confidence in the leg and regains his overall fitness following eighth months on the sideline.
The spritely redhead has been a constant presence at training and has been doing monitored running, some handball work and even taken the odd shot on goal from the boundary at Lakeside Oval.
But coach John Longmire confirmed there is currently no timeframe for his return.
"We just don't know," Longmire told AFL.com.au. "That's just being honest, we just don't know.
"We just have to make sure we keep him going and keep him going forward.
"Based on experience from what we hear from other people who have had similar injuries, we wait and see.
"We'll be guided by our medical staff as far as what he does from week to week and how he's going.
"We want to make sure he's absolutely right when he comes back obviously.
"That's our priority number one."
Leg breaks can be notoriously difficult to overcome, as Fremantle's Michael Barlow found.
Barlow broke his leg on July 3, 2010 following a collision with then-teammate Rhys Palmer.
While he returned to action on June 19, 2011, Barlow was still barely training through the first half of the 2012 season and admitted it took a full two years to regain confidence and fitness.
Longmire said it wasn't just the fractured bone that needed to recover before Rohan can consider a return to the playing arena.
"The break I think is healing really well," he said.
"Now it's a matter of every other part of his body catching up and making sure we get the balance right.
"The challenge for him now is to keep going forward without taking a backward step at any time."
James Dampney is a reporter for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_JD
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